Software Innovation Through Experimentation
By: Eric Potter
Recently I heard a fantastic presentation that helped me frame some of my thoughts about some discussions we've had at Aptera about standardizing our toolset. Two of the things that we all agreed on were:
- We need the freedom to try new better tools.
- We ought to lean towards using a common toolset based on what tools have been working the best for us.
Doc Norton gave the aforementioned presentation, called "The Experimentation Mindset" . He made a great point that 'Best Practices' are by definition practices that worked well in the past. At some point, there will always be a new better practice. If you always stick to the current 'Best Practice', there will be someone doing something more innovative than you. Doc proposed that instead of best practices, we should call them 'leading practices'.
How Do We Innovate Ahead of the Best Practices?
The answer is to run experiments. Experiments are how we learn. And in a practical sense, that is what we have been doing.
So we may not all be using the same tool for tracking our tasks. But instead of this being a problem, I see this as an asset. It allows us to effectively run experiments on which tools work the best for us and our clients. The key piece of this is to have times like we had last week and look and see what results we are getting. This allows us to all learn from one another and stay on the cutting edge.
These experiments go farther than task tracking tools. It applies to our broader processes, tools, libraries, and frameworks. Should we try to have a standard toolset? Yes. But should we try out other tools from time to time? Yes. That is how we stay ahead.
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About Eric Potter
Eric is a Microsoft MVP and Software Architect for Aptera Software in Fort Wayne Indiana, working primarily in the .Net platform. He has been developing high quality custom software solutions since 2001. He is also an adjunct professor of computer science at Indiana Tech. He loves to dabble in new and exciting technologies.